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Update (11/05/22, 13:56)
Within 24 hours of the fiasco, Azuki founder Zagabond was featured in a Twitter Space held by Andrew Wang. Zagabond’s responses were terrible to say the least with many critiquing him for sounding unapologetic and accountable for his mistakes.
During the Space, Azuki’s floor price plunged to 8 ETH whilst BEANZ fell to under 1 ETH.
Zagabond then issued a formal apology on Twitter stating: “I fucked up. After the spaces today, I realized my shortcomings in how I handled the prior projects which I started. To the communities I walked away from, to Azuki holders, and to those who believed in me — I’m truly sorry.”
At this point, the damage feels irreversible. At the time of writing, Azuki’s floor price is 10 ETH whilst BEANZ sits at 1.38 ETH.
The once untouchable NFT project Azuki has been declared “dead” by Twitter following a blog post by pseudonymous project founder Zagabond.
Just days following the successful drop of Azuki’s Beanz NFT collection, Zagabond spoiled their own party by revealing his involvement in three prior failed projects: CryptoPhunks, Tendies and CryptoZunks.
Twitter was quick to label the failed projects as “rugpulls” whilst the host of a Twitter Space called “The Death of Azuki” declared that “Azuki is dead.”
“So does Web 3.0 = rugging three projects in less than a year?” Questioned Twitter user ZachXBT in response to a tweet from Zagabond.
Shortly after Zagabond’s post went live, the floor price of Azuki NFTs plummeted from 19 ETH to 10.9 ETH. At the time of writing, the floor price is 14 ETH.
However, Azuki’s floor price had been falling prior to the “rugpull” revelation, in line with the larger decline experienced by the entire crypto, NFT and stock market.
Rugpull or failed project?
Cynics are calling Zagabond’s prior projects rugpulls whilst others are regarding them as failed projects. In a blog post, the NFT project founder broke down each of the rugged/failed projects in question.
For CryptoPhunks, Zagabond explained the project was “born out of his love for NBA Top Shot, which captures the magic of opening up a pack of Pokemon cards.”
Zagabond described the project as a “parody collection” that evolved into something bigger. Ultimately, the project was handed over to community leaders in July 2021 and the current Azuki team has not had any involvement with the project.
Tendies was inspired by the Gamestop saga with “regular people sticking it to staid incumbents.” With a minting process designed to imitate ordering chicken tenders at a fast to food restaurant, Zagabond said he wondered “what if a crazy chef cooked up chicken tenders for these apes?”
In the end, only 15% of the project had minted, despite the team doing “everything [they] could to gain traction for the project.”
“Although the community loved the story behind the blind chef who had an equal chance of cooking up a golden “tendie” or burning the restaurant down (Story Product), a project needed real substance to create a lasting community,” Zagabond explained. “We wound down the project after paying the raffle winners ETH and a Gutter Cat Gang.”
CryptoZunks allowed Zagabond to experiment with the “idea of randomization and trait rarity” that parodied Punks.
“From the storytelling perspective, I saw memetic potential with the idea of “the last 10,000 Punks.” Larva Labs’ collection had never created an alien with buck teeth, but why not?” Zagabond wrote.
“Continuing to ride the wave of parodying Punks made sense because there were still thousands of Punk combinations that had never been seen.”
Sadly, Zagabond’s project was quashed by limitations such as high gas costs killing the product experience. “The project went as far as it could, and after some team members left, the community was no longer connected with the meme of “the last 10,000 Punks.” Zagabond said.
Zagabond’s purpose of revealing his involvement with the three project was to share “learnings” about his prior experience, rather than admitting to “rugpulls.”
“Azuki wouldn’t be what it is today without the learnings from our previous projects,” Zagabond said.
“Phunks taught us the important magic behind storytelling. Tendies taught us the importance of original ideas rather than chasing a short-lived meta. And Zunks taught us that no matter how great the product is, the space is looking for new universes, a strong sense of purpose beyond rare traits, and unique experiences with gas optimizations (i.e., this was the inspiration for ERC721A to reduce gas costs for the community).”
Prospective NFT buyers are understandably wary about NFT projects – and so they should be. For the case of Azuki, we cannot completely accertain whether the project was indeed founded by a rugpuller but it’s certainly questionable as to why Zagabond would admit to his involvement in rugpulls in a blog post.